Travelling Without Moving

Big City Night. The beautiful city of Singapore at the Blue Hour (circa 2013)

“I know all we’re doing is travelling without moving…Can’t stop, no…Speed freak, faster than a speedin’ bullet…Slow down…If I don’t I just might lose it…”– Jamiroquai

This post title is actually a song (and an album title) written by a band called Jamiroquai.  The lead singer of that band created the album at a time when his love for sports cars eventually reached its peak.  I am not much different actually.  Like everyone these days, I have reached a peak (or a wall) in my travelling; at least temporarily I hope.  Seems like (or certain) there will be no travelling for the rest of the year for me and for many people.  I am turning 50 this year and I actually planned a commemorative birthday trip with my family to somewhere really spectacular.  I cancelled that one a few weeks ago.  After we slowly go back to the office next week, the rest of the year will be spent aggressively chasing those potential clients and making up for business losses made over the last 2 months.  The great Jack Ma suggested that we can forget all other personal plans for 2020 and just focus on staying healthy and alive.  He said if we are able to do that, then we should have profited already.  I think that’s good advice.  Indeed, the title of this post (and the song) reminded me that we are constantly moving and never really taking the time to think what’s more important and where we are all headed.  As bad as the current situation may seem, now all of us have the time to reflect and do just that.  🙂

The Esplanade Theaters and the Marina Bay Promenade at Night (circa 2017)

While I am still very busy working from home (or at least pretending to be), I still take the time to do other things I love aside from my architectural work.  In this case, writing down my thoughts and studying photography.  The good thing about living in a photogenic country is that there are lots of opportunities to create travel photos without having to travel outside.  As the saying goes:  “One person’s backyard is another person’s dream destination”.  I am currently based in the beautiful city of Singapore by the way.  Over the course of my photography journey and my long stay here, I have collected quite a number of images; some of which I already forgot.  In the process of going through these old photographs, I came across more forgotten travel images inside several memory cards that have remained unprocessed.  I suppose that at the time I took those photos, I was unhappy with the results for one reason or another (or thought some of them were simply excesses).  Overtime however, I learned how to shoot spontaneously and picked up a few post-processing skills.  Stumbling upon these old images now, I am able to salvage and view them in a different light.  So now I have a new collection of old and random travel photographs that take me back to those beautiful places I once enjoyed.  I have featured and posted them here in this very short post (in addition to some old Singapore photographs).  🙂

Into The Woods. Supertrees @ Gardens by the Bay in Singapore (circa 2014)

So you see?  You can still travel without moving.  I don’t mean to brag or boast about these modest travels.  Like most of you, I still look for inspiration and find hope in future planning and at the thought of being able to see the world again (it’s called faith).  And things are not as bad as they seem.  The things that we deem as excesses or setbacks now can become the ones that we benefit from later when viewed in a different light.  So you don’t throw (or delete) them right away.  I hope you are making the most of the current situation and learning a few things along the way.  I also suggest you compile your own set of memorable photographs to keep yourself inspired.  Enjoy the images below and stay grateful as always.  Stay safe everyone.  🙂

See you in my next post.  Cheers!!!

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

 

Taipei in Postcards

Classic view of Taipei City taken from the Fireworks Lookout of Elephant Mountain.

Hi there.  Like everyone these days, I take the time to rekindle the flames of inspiration and remember why we love doing the things that we do.  If you’re like me who loves to move around and take photos, then you are stuck at the moment.  One of my favorite photographers (Joe McNally) suggested that now is a time to go back to and go through our collection of photobooks and images.  Like him, I have been collecting photobooks and magazines all my life and I still have hundreds of images in piles of cards that I still need to process.  That might take quite a long while, but I can still post images here that I have already posted elsewhere. 🙂  So we take the time to “squeeze” activities like these in the middle of our work schedule.  There’s no point in being too “productive” at work these days as we are all working under a different situation and circumstance.  We all need to stay sane right? 🙂  So like most of you, I am trying to catch up with my writing (aside from picking up a few more skills).  Besides, I haven’t posted in this blog for quite some time now.  So here we go.

I had the chance to visit Taipei last December with my wife.  Actually, I almost gave up any chance of taking photos in this beautiful city after I saw the weather forecast showing a week of rainfall.  But surprisingly, we had good weather and sunny days the whole time since we arrived here.  So what I’ve read is true:  weather is really unpredictable in Taipei.  By the way, the image above is a classic view of Taipei City (on a fine and windy day) taken from the Fireworks Lookout of Elephant Mountain.  The climb to get to that viewpoint was challenging enough but the view was extremely worth it.  I stayed on that location for hours; not willing to move or give up my spot because other photographers were already set to capture the iconic twilight photo that this spot is famous for.  Besides, no one knows what the weather will be like the following day; so I had no intentions of coming back.  🙂

Taipei is described as the Yin and Yang of cities; a mix of the modern and the traditional.  Its beauty was created from a blend of Chinese, Southeast Asian, Japanese, and American influences; which is obvious from its cuisine, entertainment, and the courtesy of its people.  Taipei is one of the most tourist-friendly places on the planet.  Its people is one of the nicest I have encountered; taking the extra effort to speak our language (unlike other Asian locals in my previous trips) and going the extra mile to make the tourist experience memorable.  Shopping and street food is a quintessential experience, in addition to your search for the most authentic Bubble Tea. 🙂  Aside from these, there are other day trip attractions and destinations which is always a part of a Taipei visit.  But we never went to any of those.  Like most of my trips, I basically stay in one city and try as much to absorb its story, architecture, and of course its food.   A Taipei trip on its own is never disappointing.

Taipei City at Night viewed from the Observation Desk of Taipei 101.

I have committed one big sin though.  You might think that I forgot to post my photo of Taipei’s National Palace Museum.  I did not.  It’s because we missed that one which is quite unforgivable considering that it’s a must-see attraction for first-timers in Taipei.  On our way to the museum (it was our last day in Taipei, if I remember correctly), we decided to have lunch first and stumbled upon Japan’s famous Ichiran Ramen inside one of the malls in Xinyi.  Needless to say, we spent the rest of the day queuing.  So there goes our museum visit.  It’s silly I know.  Sorry about that.  Well at least, I know where to go first when I visit Taipei again.  🙂

But despite this, I still managed to take a few decent photos of some major sights.  And with the unexpected beautiful weather, I really enjoyed the street food experience and those photography sessions during the late hours of the day.  I am particularly passionate about cities and their architecture and Taipei is a treat for architects and architecture fans.  Taipei is made up of a few districts or neighborhoods and each district is notable for at least something; whether it’s shopping, food, or a famous landmark.  So I list them below with their most popular sights.  Enjoy my unofficial guide to Taipei.  Enjoy the photos too as much as I enjoyed taking them.  🙂

Zhongzheng:  This is Taipei’s central district and the site for its government offices, museums, shrines, and some of the city’s major tourist attractions.  This is where you get a sense of the nation’s recent political history.  The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is the most iconic of these attractions.  The neoclassical main hall is a monument to authoritarian leader Chiang Kai-shek.  Aside from Chiang’s statue in the main hall, there is also an artifact museum of Chiang’s memorabilia on the ground floor.  Don’t miss the very popular hourly changing of the guards in the main hall.  This structure is flanked on both sides of Liberty Square by the two halls of the National Theater and Concert Hall; with the main hall hosting large-scale cultural events such as dances, musicals, Chinese and Western Operas as well as classical and popular music concerts.  The 2/28 Peace Park is a beautiful garden park dedicated to the victims of the February 28, 1947 incident.  This event is of major importance as it led to the country’s transformation from dictatorship to democracy.

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Datong and Zhongshan:  Datong is one of the oldest districts in the city, while Zhongshan was once a hub of finance and international business activities.  Bao’an Temple and the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine are my favorites in these districts.  There are more attractions of course and I apologize for not having visited the rest of them.  🙂  Bao’an Temple is a UNESCO award-winning site and is the mother of all Taipei temples.  Taipei has hundreds of temples but Bao’an is the most elaborate and richly decorated.  People come here to pray for good health.  The National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine is a beautiful complex of traditional structures dedicated to the memory of almost 400,000 soldiers who died for the ROC.  Like most shrines, there is an impressive hourly changing of the guards.  The shrine is windy and peaceful with a lush landscape, a long courtyard, and a beautiful mountain as a backdrop.

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Wanhua and Ximending:  Wanhua used to be a trading center for tea, coal, and camphor (a compound used to make ointments).  Today, it is best known for its temples and historical neighborhoods.  Ximending is Taipei’s shopping district and perhaps the most popular destination for most visitors to Taipei.  Bopiliao Historical Block is one well-preserved neighborhood in Wanhua.  Most of the buildings here now house art galleries for upcoming artists.  It has less visitors however, but it’s still an interesting neighborhood because of the gritty buildings and lanes that give the area its texture and character.  Ximending Pedestrian District is everyone’s night shopping destination and is filled with hotels, cinemas, and shops selling cosmetics, clothing, food, and all sorts of bubble tea claiming to be the original (among many others).  I suggest booking a hotel in this area when planning to visit Taipei.  We stayed at  Diary of Ximen Hotel which gives you a good value for your money.  I am not getting paid for this advertisement by the way.  Just trying to help.  🙂

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Da’an and Songshan:  Da’an is Taipei’s latest and most expensive residential and commercial neighborhood.  This is where top restaurants, high-end shopping streets, and major universities are located.  Its main attraction is the beautiful Da’an Forest Park which is Taipei’s leafy Central Park where people come to play and have picnic.  Its architectural centerpiece is the beautiful Daan Park StationSongshan is famous for those areas around its train station, the night market, and beautiful bridges dotting the Keelung River.  Raohe Street Night Market is Taipei’s oldest night market and the highlight of a visit to Songshan.  You can load up on a great assortment of Taiwanese street eats and treats.  Don’t forget to try the famous black pepper pork bun.  You’re sure not to miss this one as its stall always has the longest queue and is the nearest to one of the main gates of the market (the gate next to the temple).  Adjacent to the street market is the peaceful Rainbow Riverside Park with its riverside promenade and beautiful bridges.  While the Rainbow Bridge is the most popular for young lovers, my favorite is the beautiful 2nd MacArthur Bridge; best viewed at night when you can see the luminous Taipei 101 Tower from a distance.

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Xinyi District:  Xinyi is the big city part of Taipei and is the city’s financial and city government district.  Taipei 101 Tower (Taipei’s most famous icon) dominates the skyline of this part of town; supported and surrounded by some of the biggest malls and office buildings occupied by multinational companies.  Taipei 101 Mall should not be missed which has branches of some of the famous restaurant chains in the region.  A climb to Taipei 101 Observation Deck is a part of a visit to Taipei 101 Tower.  The best time to view the city from the top is at night when all the building lights are on making the city look like an inverted night sky.  Xinyi Place is Xinyi’s premiere shopping destination with high-end malls carrying the biggest names in retail as well as several specialty stores.  The plaza between the mall buildings is a hive for busking and entertainment and is particularly attractive during Christmas season.  A hike to the top of Elephant Mountain is a must-have and challenging but rewarding experience.  Expect a steep trail to the top.  Elephant Mountain is the vantage point of every classic and iconic postcard shot of Taipei; so expect a large crowd and come at least a few hours early if you are planning to photograph the city at sunset or twilight (yes I mean a few hours early).  🙂

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

So there you go; my incomplete and unofficial guide to Taipei.  🙂  I hope that somehow, I have inspired you to visit this beautiful and progressive Asian city (when things go back to normal of course).  And I hope you are making the most of your time and reviving your passions (and learning new things as well) during this period.  Take care and stay safe everyone!

See you in my next post.  Cheers!!!  🙂

101 Eastbound

Taipei Classic:  A postcard view of the City of Taipei taken from Elephant Mountain.

I almost gave up all hopes of taking good photos after I saw the weather forecast showing a week of rainfall in Taipei.  Surprisingly, we had good weather the whole time since we arrived here.  Weather is really unpredictable in Taipei. 🙂  I also did not know what to expect or see here (other than Taipei 101 of course) but this city turned out to be an enjoyable one not only in terms of food but also in its architecture.  Photography for me of course is a given; and with the cool and unexpected beautiful weather, I really enjoyed those photowalks out in the cold. 🙂

The image above is a classic view of Taipei City taken from the Fireworks Lookout of Elephant Mountain in Xinyi District.  Every photographer visiting Taipei must have this shot.  The climb up the hill to get to this viewpoint is challenging enough, but the view is definitely worth it and extremely rewarding.  I waited on this location for hours and not willing to move or give up my spot as other photographers were already set-up to capture this twilight moment.  Besides, no one knows what the weather will be like the following day; so I have no intentions of coming back.  Sorry about that.  🙂

I can’t wait to write about this beautiful and progressive Asian city in my next post.  Meanwhile, I have saved a few photos from this recent trip.  You can click here for the photo gallery.  Enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and I hope this inspires you to visit this beautiful and surprising city (in case you haven’t done so).

Happy Holidays Everyone!  Thank you for reading.

See you in my next post.  Cheers!!!  🙂

One Lovely Blog Award 2017

Marina Bay Sands with Arts Science Museum at the Blue Hour.

A month ago, I was given the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD by my fellow blogger Audrey.  Audrey pens Living for Experiences, a blog about her wonderful insights on life and useful tips on travel.  Do check her wonderful blog.  This is my second award from her, with the first award causing me to earn a few followers.  It is encouraging to know that people are actually reading some of my thoughts and writings.

RULES OF THE AWARD
1) Thank the person that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2) List the Rules.
3) Display the Award in your post.
4) List seven facts about yourself.
5) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

Bay Gardens East View in Singapore.

A FEW FACTS ABOUT MYSELF
1) I am an architect from the Philippines.
2) I am currently based in Singapore (an Overseas Filipino Worker away from my wife and daughter) and working as an Interior Designer.
3) I became an architect because of my love for drawing and the LEGO (which I wrote about here).
4) I am an obsessive compulsive, phlegmatic control freak (with a tendency to overthink and overwrite). 🙂
5) If I am not doing architecture or interior design, I practice writing, photography, and do a bit of traveling.
6) My love for travel started in 2013 after a first trip to Japan; and fell in love with Japan and anything Japanese ever since. 🙂
7) I always wanted to write a book about my professional work but started this blog in 2015 instead; and have used it since to share my travel postcards and insights brought about by my Christian faith.

MY NOMINEES FOR THE ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD
For the next ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD, I list below my nominees whose posts I read for a variety of reasons which include a zest for life, passion for travel, love for architecture, excellent photography, and an emotional or unique style of writing.  Congratulations to all my nominees.  It’s okay not to accept the award but I sure would like to know more about you my fellow bloggers. Enjoy!!!

1) Eat, Pray, and Love Kind of Adventure
2) Travel Happy
3) My Life in a Snap
4) Albert
5) Weeknightly
6) Architecture Wander
7) Joshua Dunn
8) Tiny Nectar
9) WanderingKakat
10) A World of Adventuring, Learning, and Loving
11) Jet Set Brunette
12) Ezekiel Kok Photography
13) Jandreiventures
14) Yen and Again
15) The Weary Travelers

Again, thank you very much to Audrey of Living for Experiences for this wonderful ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD.  See you all in blogosphere.  🙂

See you in my next post. Cheers!!!

Liebster Award 2017

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The Venetian, Macau (circa 2017)

Two weeks ago, I was given the Liebster Award for bloggers by Audrey, author of the blog Living for Experiences.  I thank Audrey for this nomination as I did not expect people to be reading a lot of my writings and musings.  It is an honor to receive such a nomination.  Check out Audrey’s blog here and be inspired by her amazing insights on life and her useful tips on travel.

What is the Liebster Award?
Dating back to 2011, the Liebster Award is an award that exists only in the internet, and is given by bloggers to fellow bloggers to promote each other’s blogs.  Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
As a sign of my gratitude and my appreciation of other writers, I would like to nominate for the next Liebster Awards the blogs I follow below because of their authors’ amazing zest for life and passion for adventure.  Do check out their sites.

My Nominees (drumroll please):
1) Jandreiventures
2) Yen and Again
3) Wandering Kakat
4) The Weekend Sightseer
5) Architecture Wander

www-kirstiekinsblogs-co_-uk_small

Rules of the Award
1) In a blog post, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2) Answer the questions sent by that person who nominated you.
3) Nominate other bloggers for the award and ask them a new set of questions.
4) List the rules for the nominees and display the Liebster logo in your post and in your blog.
If my nominees do not wish to accept the award, I am fine with that.  Although it would be great to know more about you my fellow bloggers.  If you are new to this nomination (or your first time to hear about it), you can click here for more ideas about the guidelines, questions to ask your nominees, and some latest Liebster logos you can attach to your post.  Remember to notify your nominees about their nominations and link them back to your blog post.

My Questions to My Nominees
1) What or who inspired you to start your blog?
2) What do you think made your blog successful (in terms of number of followers, visibility, etc)?
3) Where are you from and what top 3 places in your country / hometown would you recommend travelers to visit?
4) What are your Top 3 Dream Travel Destinations and why?
5) What place or country left the most impact on you and what is your most important take away from that place or country?
6) Any unique experience / advice / lesson you want to share with other travelers / bloggers?

Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian (Macau)

The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, Macau (January 2017)

My Answers to Audrey’s Questions
1) What is the story behind your blog’s name?
I originally wanted to write a book about my specialized work in architecture but busyness caused that writing project to be shelved.  I picked up photography as a cure for tunnel vision and found myself writing about my photos instead.  My blog title (From Lines to Lenses) explains that shift from writing about Architecture (Lines, Drawings, etc.) to writing about Photography & Travel (Lens, Cameras, etc).  Pretty lame isn’t it? 🙂
2) Why did you start blogging?
I was already using photo-sharing sites before I started this blog, but found those free sites to have ever-changing formats and interfaces.  Having your own blog allows you to contol appearance, format and content.  Nowadays, almost everyone has a web presence, and owning your own blog (or domain) is a powerful medium to reach other people with the same interests.  If you have something to share (or if you love writing), the blog is a perfect venue to do that.
3) What according to you is the best thing about blogging?
I realized that there are many talented and creative people out there, and some of them are very inspiring writers and bloggers.  Blogging allowed me to reach out to other people with the same passions; and their experiences and stories help me improve my own skills.  I love photography and travel; and blogs are the best sources of travel advice and real-world experiences for me.
4) What is/are your goal(s) for 2017?
Other than my personal & career goals (which I think are too many to write here), I plan to see either Australia (Sydney) or the Middle East (Dubai) in the later part of this year.  As I am working in Singapore and away from my family, it will take a bit of logistic planning to travel with them to either of these places.  Meantime, I just came back from Macau and will be back in Hong Kong next week for a company trip.  Singapore also has 7 long weekends this year, so I will do a lot of road trips and photography projects around those long weekends.  I am also looking at the potential of earning revenue from my photography.
5) Where are you from and what is the common stereotype / misconception about your home town / state / country?
I am from Manila, capital city of the beautiful Philippines.  One of my former employers had a branch office in Manila but I heard the owner of the company never really visited that Manila office for fear of being kidnapped.  While crime is always present (what country doesn’t have one?), those isolated incidents of abducting aliens (and alien abductions 🙂 ) still will not take away the fact that my country has its own unique set of resources and beauty (I’m a good example by the way 🙂 ).  When traveling to the Philippines (or to any unfamiliar country), it is good common sense to have a friend or someone who knows the place well to guide and accompany you.  Each country I have visited has certain areas I was told to avoid, and I was wise enough to follow that advice.
6) What kind of traveler are you- spontaneous or planner?
The trips I take are never long enough so I do a fair amount of planning to maximize my time when I get to my destination.  With my trips planned around photography and with the speed at which I need to take pictures, a good deal of research about the places I plan to cover is always a key.
7) Share your worst travel experience ever.
All my travels so far were pleasant ones (thank God).  Most of the locals we encountered were kind to tourists; except for a few cranky ones inside crowded trains, buses and restaurants who are oblivious of the tourists around them.  Language is a challenge sometimes (my fault by the way) but adds to the beauty of the experience.
8) What is one important lesson you have learnt in your travels?
Not just one, but a lot actually.  Traveling helped me respect other cultures and to understand friends and colleagues who come from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds.  When visiting another country, I also learn more about my own country than the country I am visiting.  Also, travel photography (being different from a family holiday) is best done alone to maximize the time (I apologize to my family who will read this 🙂 ).  To travel to take pictures is different from taking pictures while traveling.  If you have to do both travel photography and a family holiday, it is always best to plan the holiday sightseeing around the places you plan to shoot.  As always, I plan well and try to cover a place like it will be my first and last chance to see it.

So there you go.  Again, stay grateful and inspired.  My sincere thanks once more to Audrey of Living for Experiences for this wonderful Liebster Award.  Do check her wonderful blog at www.audreysimplicity.com

See you in my next post. Cheers!!!  🙂